19 Democrats vote against Nancy Pelosi
Outgoing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s head was on a swivel as the judgment of her Democratic peers came down, one voice at a time, Wednesday.
Seated at a table a few rows back on the Democratic side of the House chamber, Pelosi flashed grateful smiles at those who loudly shouted her name as their vote for speaker. Her “Aw” was audible when Rep. Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.) called out “Pelosi. Proudly!” and then spelled it, “P-E-L-O-S-I.”
But about 10 percent of her colleagues rejected her decision to stay on as their leader after they were tossed out of the majority in the midterm elections, carefully pronouncing the names of folks who weren’t even in the running for the job destined to go to Rep. John Boehner (R-Ohio).
Eighteen of the 193 Democrats voted for someone other than Pelosi, with Rep. Sanford Bishop of Georgia, who also opposed her, voting present and Rep. Peter DeFazio of Oregon, a frequent critic, skipping the roll call altogether to attend a local town hall meeting on saving a veterans hospital.
It was a scene unlike any other in recent House history and, as a public repudiation of a party leader by so many lawmakers, one that won’t soon be forgotten. The roll call resulted in the most votes against a party’s own speaker candidate in nearly 90 years, according to the House historian’s office. Twenty-three Republicans voted against Massachusetts GOP Rep. Frederick Gillett’s candidacy for speaker in 1923, although he eventually won the gavel on the ninth vote. When Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) teetered on the edge of rejection by his own party in 1997, only nine Republicans denied him their votes.
Pelosi brushed off the votes against her in a brief exchange with POLITICO after the roll call.
“We’re excited about the votes I got,” said the California congresswoman, who handed over the speaker’s gavel to Boehner at a ceremony after the roll call.
Some Democratic aides said the number of votes against Pelosi might have been higher but for this: Committee assignments for the 112th Congress have not yet been made, and lawmakers fear they could be denied a spot on the panel of their choice — particularly as rosters are shrinking — if they anger the person who controls the panel making those decisions.